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iOS dev has some newbie questions about Android open source and others

Discussion in 'Android Lounge' started by Emt9, Apr 11, 2012.

  1. Emt9

    Emt9 Lurker
    Thread Starter

    Hey everybody.
    I haven't had a Android phone myself yet, and I'd like to know some things before buying one. Probably the Galaxy Note.

    What exactly is the state of open source with Android?
    Say I buy the Galaxy Note. Then it comes with a modified version of gingerbread. But not all of this is open source, right?

    So I either have the option to keep the stock OS, or to install another open build.
    But I'm afraid that it's not really practical to install some generic build,
    when the manufacturer has gone some length to complement a generic one for the best UX for the particular handset.
    In other words: If I really want to mess with the device at a level that I for example want to customize the home screen.
    I like to not just have apps there, but also some widgets.
    I guess a lot is possible to customize without any coding.
    But what I'm trying to find out now is, that if something is not readily changeable and needs some fiddling with the code, how often is it the case that you can't go further because some parts or libraries aren't available in source?

    I hope you understand what I want to know.

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  2. MSUgEEk

    MSUgEEk Android Expert

    Let me attempt to answer this.

    First off, yes, Android is open source, but that doesn't mean you can buy an HTC phone and run a Samsung proprietary version of Android and vice versa. A lot of times, developers do find ways to emulate interface features and some other things, but it's not guaranteed.

    Second, to install another open build of Android it's not really as simple as buy the phone and shop around for a modified version of Android to install. Some phones are much more difficult to get to the point of installing a custom open version of Android. I'm not aware of many, if any, phones that you simply can't do this to, but it is more difficult on some. For example, I own the Samsung Galaxy Nexus, which is by nature a developers phone. It took all of maybe 30 minutes to get a custom version up and running on mine. On the flipside, I haven't even bothered with my wife's HTC Rezound. Some manufacturers make it more difficult than others by locking and encrypting the bootloaders. Like I said, it's all possible, but some are more difficult. Do a little research on how difficult it is and how open you can make the phone you are looking at buying

    Lastly, if you are looking at the Galaxy Note, I would probably want to stick with the Samsung released version of Android simply for the fact that they have done some special coding for the Note and the S-pen. I do not know if developers have already got the S-pen feature working with custom ROMs or not. If they have, that's awesome. I am just not familiar with that phone's develpment progress. I would browse on over to that phone's specific section here: http://androidforums.com/samsung-galaxy-note/ and see what kind of features they have gotten going for the Note in customized versions.

    Edit: according to that forum, there are no custom ROMs out there yet. Not sure if you are familiar with the terms we use here yet or not, but a ROM is an open customized version of Android.

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